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Showing posts from May, 2016

Aha! Now I see it!

Catherine the Great - ever heard of this leader of Russia? She was renown in her time, bringing great increase to the Russian economy throughout her reign. She did much to increase the vast territory of Russia, even extending Russian development into the Alaskan territory. In her brief 67 years on this earth, she took over as Queen after the death of her husband and with increasing help from great generals, admirals, and armies she was able to make Russia the fastest growing country of the time. She is quoted as saying, "I am one of the people who love the why of things." In this respect, we are a lot alike, because I live to understand the why behind things. There are times it gets a little exasperating to not get at the "why" behind a matter - but I keep driving toward it until I can somehow get it fully revealed. She made another very keen observation I wanted to share with you this morning: "For to tempt and to be tempted are things very nearly allied - wh…

Thank you

Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted.  (Psalm 23:4 VOICE)

If you have ever been to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., then you have probably had one of those moments looking out over the vast "sea" of white headstones in wonder at all the thousands of fallen who gave their life in the defense of the United States of America.  It is the only cemetery to actually hold men and women from each and every war fought by our country since the Revolutionary War and even some which have been re-interred from the War of 1812. You may not realize that section 27 actually contains civilians - slaves who worked the property in Freedman's Village - with their headstones simply reading "civilian" or "citizen" instead of listing their branch of military service. I have stood in awe, not over the memorial of JFK like s…

Is that really a temptation?

Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward. (I Corinthians 10:13 VOICE)

Temptation is something we all deal with - no matter how much we think we have overcome some particular thing, we occasionally find ourselves being tempted again in that area.  I think it is Satan's way of trying to tell God we haven't "really" overcome in that area - like he taunts us to prove we are not as "far ahead" in our right-living as we might want to think we are.  He never "let up" with Jesus - what makes us think he'd be willing to let up on his resistance of us moving forward in this life with Jesus?

Temptation isn't always something we have control over - we can find ourselves in situations where we are tempted without even knowing we were headed into it.  Most of the time, we …

Ruin requires rescue

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power. (I Corinthians 1:18 VOICE)
Ruin is the downfall, decay, or destruction of anything.  We call old dwellings we uncover in archaeological digs as "ruins", but we all refer to toast charred to a crisp in the toaster as "ruined".  Three things about ruin we need to realize:
1. It describes a condition in which the thing or one who was on the rise at one point is now on the decline.  It can be caused by being taken down a notch, as when we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  It can also be caused by being overthrown, as when someone goes up against another and finds they just didn't have the capacity or "talent" to continue in a position they wanted to maintain.  The decline can be gradual, or at s…

Giving up isn't always admitting defeat

A.W. Tozer once commented about this idea of God's control - things looking all amiss and out of control "behind the scenes" in our lives, while all the time he is just waiting for us to realize he has never given up control. I think we might all just have those times in life when we think God has somehow stepped away from the control panel - like he has taken leave of watching over us for a while and in the evolving time between his "leaving the control center" and now we can see all of life just taking on a totally "out of control" spin. As Tozer put it, it isn't him being "out of control" as much as him wanting us to realize he "is in control".

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. (Romans 8:20 VOICE)

The passage of time, especially when things seem to be spinning out of control, can be…

A cherry pit

Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.  (James 3:17-18 VOICE)

At the center of a cherry is a pit.  The purpose of the pit isn't to just "fill space" - it is surrounded by juicy cherry pulp, but in and of itself, the pit is just a pit.  As the cherry falls to the ground, the cherry pulp begins to break down.  As it does, it provides a way for the pit to be nourished and then to take root, growing into a new cherry tree.  Without the pulp, the pit is kind of on its own.  It is much like just getting book learning "wisdom" of some sort, but not having it surrounded by the stuff which actually feeds it until it becomes the wisdom God would want us to actually use in our lives!

Heavenly wisdom is that which is fed by purity, gentleness, deference, mercy and other good fruits "untainted&…

Solitude or Isolation?

Whoever pulls away from others to focus solely on his own desires disregards any sense of sound judgment.  (Proverbs 18:1 VOICE)

Joseph Roux stated, "Solitude vivifies; isolation kills."  You might have to mull that one over a little to really get the meat of it, but in essence he is saying moving into a place of being secluded is a little different than totally isolating one's self from others.  We all need a little solitude now and again - just to recharge our batteries.  In a medical sense, the only time we use isolation is when we are trying to control the spread of a very bad disease!

At times, a place of solitude becomes a place where we empty ourselves of all the stuff which has been gathering within us and draining us of our energies. In a place of solitude, we get a moment to breathe, to just "chill" - in so doing, we are actually lightening our burden and getting ready for the next steps we might be considering taking.  Some might equate solitude with i…

I will cast my cares on you

So, humble yourselves under God’s strong hand, and in his own good time he will lift you up. You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.  (I Peter 5:6-7 PHILLIPS)  

There is a song which comes to me, many times in the wee hours of the dark night when I am just there in bed, awake for no apparent reason with my head rushing from one thought to another.  It is the song "Cast My Cares".  The chorus is my favorite part of the song: "I will cast my cares on you. You're the anchor of my hope, the only one who's in control. I will cast my cares on you. I'll trade the troubles of this world for your peace inside my soul."  The song is written by Blake Neesmith, Casey Brown, and Sam Tinnesz - three individuals singing as "Finding Favour".  I am not sure why this song repeatedly comes to mind in those hours, but I think you know where I am going with this - those things running around in my head aren't…

Passing Through

Robert Frost once said, "The best way out is always the way through." Most of the time, the way "through" is not always the most comfortable, but it is the most rewarding!  We could all probably fill a book or two with all the things we have been "through", but those which might just rise to the top for me are those which left the most permanent mark on my life.  There are good things, like the birth of my two children - each uniquely lasting memories in my mind which brought such joy.  The purchase of my first home - a fixer-upper to say the least, but mine nonetheless - a place we could call our own.  The day I watched each of my children receive their diplomas from high school - marking a right of passage for each of them and a time of transition for me as my nest would soon be empty and quiet.  The morning my dad passed - with all the corresponding rehearsal of memories we had made through our years together, knowing no more memories would be ever be …

Enjoy the Journey!

If a person lives many years, then he should learn to enjoy each and every one; but he should not forget the dark days ahead, for there will be plenty of them. All that is to come—whether bright days or dark—is fleeting. Be happy, and celebrate all of the goodness of youth while you are young. Cultivate a cheerful heart every day you have youth. Go where your heart takes you. Take in the sights. Enjoy, but remember that God will hold us accountable for all that we do. When all is said and done, clear your mind of all its worries. Free your body of all its troubles while you can, for youth and the prime of life will soon vanish. (Ecclesiastes 11:8-10 VOICE)

Bette Davis said, "Old age is no place for sissies".  Isn't that the truth! Someone else said something along the line of doing all this stuff, spending all this money, exerting all this effort to help someone actually reach old age, but completely missing the very thing they need the most:  The ability to enjoy it!  Th…

Masterpiece

For You shaped me, inside and out. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb long before I took my first breath. I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe. You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful; I carry this knowledge deep within my soul.  (Psalm 139:13-14 VOICE) We have probably heard that little quip, "God don't make no junk". We could also say, "God doesn't make mistakes".  Consider this for just a moment... When God made you and I, he made us "IN his own image" (Genesis 1:26).  "Now let us conceive a new creation - humanity - made in our image, fashioned according to our likeness."  When we complain about the "image" we bear, we are really saying we don't like the image of God, since we are fashioned "according to the likeness of God".  If a sculptor had a model upon a stool for a whole day, chipping away at…

Disposition matters

Charm is that "magical" power to please or attract through one's personality or beauty, almost as though someone were "under the spell" of the one with so much "charm".  Charm is not a bad thing, but one can become obsessed with the things one believes will make them "more charming".  Beauty is not bad - but the continual, obsessive pursuit of the next greatest "fad" designed to make or keep you "beautiful" can become somewhat like the worship of beauty.  A great personality is indeed a plus for the one's who have to "deal with you" day after day, but sometimes we "label" someone's personality as "dry", "introverted", and the like.  We aren't always attracted to those individuals because they aren't "out there" in the lime-light all the time.  If there weren't a few "dry" or "introverted" individuals in this world, I don't think …

S.O.S.

You cried out to Me, I heard your distress, and I delivered you; I answered you from the secret place,where clouds of thunder roll.  (Psalm 81:7 VOICE)

Distress is the condition of great pain, anxiety, or sorrow.  It can be real or imagined - acute or chronic.  It have both physical and mental aspects.  The extent to which one experiences distress has the potential to also be the extent to which one experiences God's deliverance and grace!  "The darkest day, if you live till tomorrow, will have passed away."  (William Cowper)  Much can be said about the dawning of a new day and the potential it brings, but even the brightest of days can be overshadowed by the greatest of distress.

If you ever wondered why those who are in distress send out the "S.O.S" signal, it may because in those places of our darkest hours we experience the depth of longing for someone to simply "save our souls".  We cannot do it ourselves and we earnestly desire for someone else to…

We are all part of one another....

You know how you read through scripture, noticing some truths here and there, and all of a sudden something you have read a gillion times just sticks out to you this time?  I have these moments once in a while, too.  They are like the Holy Spirit says "here's something you might want to grab hold of today" and the words just seem to be the ones I pay attention to in a new way.  I love the Pauline epistles, so I "frequent" them often.  They are probably some of my "favorite" parts of the Word.  I think I connect with David in the Old Testament because he struggled with "real stuff" and he messed up, but he always came back to God in repentance, looking for restoration, and finding more than enough grace to enter into God's presence each time.  I connect with the Apostle Paul because he was kind of a "know it all" Pharisee who needed to be "cut down" a few notches in order to see truth as God would have him see it.  The…

Not always willing to make the journey?

C.S. Lewis said, "Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching."  As a child, I am not proud to admit it, but I did things "behind my parents' backs" that I would never have done if they were watching. I kind of followed those around me who were using a little more colorful language than my parents would allow, or I treated others in a way which made absolutely no sense simply because others were treating them that way first.  As kids, we do some of these things thinking our actions will never be discovered. The problem with that belief is that NOTHING we do is ever totally and completely "secret". Someone is always watching. Someone will always hear.  Someone will always see. That someone?  God!  

The path of integrity is always safe, but a person who follows a crooked way will be exposed. (Proverbs 10:9 VOICE)
My parents always tried to teach me the lesson to live "in private" as I would want others to see me "in pu…

Tending the lawn

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."  (Jim Elliot)   This is truly a "deep" and "profound" observation on this clergyman's part.  To give what we cannot keep is more of a struggle than one may at first imagine. Silly as it may be, we often hold onto practices much like we hold onto things in our lives just because it has been the way we have always done things.  The defining moment comes when we actually realize we cannot get different results while doing exactly the same thing repeatedly, especially if those things are what we are counting on to somehow make us nearer, or more acceptable to God. We do a great deal to "give our best" to God, but even if we repeat the steps over and over again all we give is "our best".  I would much rather give to God what I am not able to give myself - no matter how hard I try!  Grace is something I cannot give myself - it is a gift freely given by him, but wh…

Another type of campaign

It never ceases to amaze me all the things people will 'protest' against these days.  Whether it be taking an open mike at the county or state government meeting, or carrying pickets outside the offices of our legislators, there are groups "advocating" for some "right".  It could be the right to work for a wage they determine to be better than the present wage, the controversy over which restroom to use at a public establishment, or even that dolphins don't belong in the Arizona desert!  We have coined this "advocating activity" as taking a stand for what we believe.  Our country was founded on the principle a person's opinion mattered - hence we get the laws around the freedom of speech.  Yes, we do have the freedom to advocate or protest, but the real question is if we are "taking a stand" for the right things?
Stand up for the poor and the orphan; advocate for the rights of the afflicted and those in need. Deliver the poor and…